And now for some good news!

Here is the announcement lifted from Creative Victoria website:

With more than $115 million in new funding, Creative State is designed to grow Victoria’s $23 billion creative and cultural economy, turbocharge local creative enterprises, create new jobs and employment opportunities, and bring social and cultural benefits to Victorians.

Creative State was launched on Tuesday 19 April by the Minister for the Creative Industries, Martin Foley. Read the Minister’s foreword here.

There are five focus areas and 40 targeted actions in the strategy, which you can explore in full on the Govt website. The focus areas are:

Backing creative talent

Strengthening the creative industries ecosystem

Delivering wider economic and social impact

Increasing participation and access

Building international engagement

Runway Art Journal: In Response, revisiting a Melbourne perspective

This is Part 2 of Runway Art Journal blog series on ECOLOGIES – An audio conversation between Anabelle Lacroix, Madé Spencer-Castle and me, Maria Miranda.


Anabelle Lacroix

Madé Spencer-Castle

Maria Miranda

As Part 2 of our ongoing blog series on the ecologies of the Artist Run Initiatives, we’re hoping to stimulate further conversation, reflection and debate. We’ve asked all the contributors from Part 1 to create a response to the contributions of their peers. In this week’s instalment, Maria Miranda (Research fellow at the Victorian College of the Arts) leads a conversation with Madé Spencer-Castle (Artist and Curator at Bus Projects) and Anabelle Lacroix (Independent Curator and General Manager at Liquid Architecture) on their responses to the series and to their own experiences. You can read Maria’s first post here.

ACAB in collaboration with Nickk Hertzog, CONCRETE TERRA, 23 July – 16 August, 2014. Photo credit Deb Bain-King. The Front.


Budget announcement from Canada: Canadian Govt invests $1.9 CAD Billion in Arts and Culture

On March 22, the new Canadian Govt brought down its budget. During his campaign Prime Minister Trudeau had promised to double funding to the Canada Council for the Arts. And that’s just what he did. Sort of. It will be doubled over a period of four years. But hey! let’s not quibble. This is a wonderful example of a government with some vision and understanding of the value of the arts and more broadly cultural production, to the whole community.  And please note the FINANCE Minister says:

“Culture is synonymous with creation. It also creates a collective wealth that goes beyond economic benefits and statistics,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his budget speech.

Here’s a snippet of  from Canadian Art news.

$40 Million More for Canada Council

The federal budget released today offers $40 million in new funding to the Canada Council (on top of its previous $180 million allotment) in the upcoming year.

 “Culture is synonymous with creation. It also creates a collective wealth that goes beyond economic benefits and statistics,” Finance Minister Bill Morneau said in his budget speech.

This brings total annual Canada Council funding for the coming year to $220 million—a 20% surge, but $140 million short of the original fall promise of $360 million.

However, the budget plan promises that funding for the Canada Council will increase each year over the next five years—with $75 million in additional funding to come next year, and $115 million more the year after that. The doubling of the Council budget to $360 million under this plan is scheduled to happen in 2020–2021.

Representatives from the Canadian Arts Coalition, the Canadian Museums Association, the Artist Run Centres and Collectives Conference, and CARFAC all expressed optimism at the new Council funding.

“Visual artists in Canada contribute greatly to the economy and our cultural identity, yet more than half subsist on less than $18,000/year,” read a statement from CARFAC. “Providing for more federal grants through the Canada Council for the Arts will have a significant and positive effect on artists’ incomes and the sustainability of their lives.”

Promises on Art Abroad, But Needs on Artist-Run Home Front Too

The Artist Run Centres and Collectives Conference (ARCA), for instance, released a post-budget statement to the effect that it wants to see the new money at the Canada Council distributed to address gaps in current funding for artist-run centres.

“ARCA is optimistic that this [Canada Council] investment will make up for years of stagnation in the funding of artistic organizations, including artist-run centres (ARCs),” the statement read.

“ARCA sincerely hopes Council will work in close collaboration with arts service organizations for the implementation of the new funding model and consider increases to multi-year core funding to organizations a priority. It’s worth recalling that only 10% of the $146 million in public funding received by visual arts organizations goes to artist-run centres,” the statement continued.

ARI Remix Project



ARI Remix Project
An open source, public archive, resource & database artwork.
A work in progress & in development now.
Stage One – QLD 1980-1990: April 2015 – Dec 2016
Stage Two – NSW, ACT: (TBA)

Stage One- 1980-1990 Artist-Run Heritage – The Queensland ARI Remix

The ARI Remix project began in earnest in November 2012 via the social media open group, now comprising over 300 of the artists, designers, creatives, peers and social observers engaged in 1980-1990 Queensland artist-run collaborations here:


This open group was initiated to assist with both the research and development of the Ephemeral Traces exhibition curated by Peter Anderson at the University of Queensland Art Museum and the collaborative ARI Remix Open source Public Archive located here. These two project are independent but related projects and are being generated in collaboration through shared research, study and dialogue.

ephemeral traces: Brisbane’s artist-run scene in the 1980s

University of Queensland Art Museum

2 April 2016 – 26 June 2016

ephemeral traces provides the first comprehensive analysis of artist-run practice in Brisbane during the final decade of the conservative Joh Bjelke-Petersen government. The exhibition focuses on the scene that developed around five key spaces that operated in Brisbane from 1982 to 1988: One Flat, A Room, That Space, The Observatory, and John Mills National.

Drawing on artworks, documentation and ephemera, the exhibition provides a contextual account of this progressive artist-run activity, examining collective projects, publications and the spaces themselves, as well as organisations such as the Artworkers Union and Queensland Artworkers Alliance. A counterpoint to Michele Helmrich’s earlier exhibition Return to sender (UQ Art Museum, 2012), which focused on the artists who left Queensland during the Bjelke-Petersen era, this exhibition is about the artists who stayed.

Curator: Peter Anderson


Balancing on the Edge: RUNWAY art journal

Below is my text contribution for the ECOLOGIES issue of  RUNWAY Australian Experimental Art


Maria Miranda

One night last year at an opening at The Food Court in Melbourne Docklands I found myself in conversation with a stranger. He was standing alone dressed in a hooded yellow windcheater and wearing black stripy plastic boots. He was watching the large video screen showing Brody Xarhakos’ Passing Through animations. I can’t remember why we started chatting. He told me he lived alone in the house he grew up in. His parents, Polish immigrants, had both died. He was not young yet he lived cheaply with no electricity and often cycled to his favourite charity to eat. His life should have sounded difficult yet it didn’t. He exuded an air of exhilaration, free from mundane worries. He sounded smart. He said he followed all the Melbourne art openings, through an online directory, choosing which ones to attend and cycled in rain or heat. He made me feel elated too.

Acts of Permanent Suspension, performance by Robert Mangion and Christos Linou, 22 November - 6 December, 2014.

Acts of Permanent Suspension, performance by
Robert Mangion and Christos Linou, 22 November – 6 December, 2014. D11@ Docklands

I mention this transient meeting as it captures something of the sociable feel and unexpected encounters of the spaces that operated in the Docklands beginning in 2013 under the auspices of Docklands Spaces. Commissioned by City of Melbourne and Places Victoria, Dockland Spaces is a pilot initiative by Renew Australia, the organization begun by Marcus Westbury in his home town of Newcastle. All three spaces were quite distinct. The Front, directed by Deb Bain-King focused on large scale installation and performative artworks; D11@ Docklands initiated by Michael Carolan and later run by Second Collective, featured curated exhibitions with an interdisciplinary approach and The Food Court, initiated by James Wright but now co-directed by Nico Reddaway and Amie Anderson, is an exhibition project space located in an abandoned Food Court and it has an unconventional and wide ranging list of events, performances and community exchanges. Today only The Food Court is still operating in their original space, and The Front has evolved into an ongoing floating entity.

But back then, on opening nights, all three spaces opened together, creating a large crowd of art-goers who rambled happily from one space to the next, usually ending the evening at The Food Court. I discovered through conversations with different artists that this was a deliberate intention, a way to attract a large audience for their work, and to offer several shows for the price of one tram ticket. The Docklands is seen as out-of-the way, but even though for me, formerly of Sydney, it seems very close to the CBD. And there’s a tram stop, for heaven’s sake, within spitting distance of these spaces. In fact, D11 is the name of the tram stop. Anyway, the strategy worked and opening nights were always full of chatter and people moving in and out of the spaces.

Overgrown, installation view, March 14, 2016. Photo credit: Matteo Volpi

Overgrown, installation view, March 14, 2016. Photo credit: Matteo Volpi

The closeness of the three spaces created friendships and working relationships, with ongoing collaborations being forged. People felt a real sense of community, fostering a spirit of camaraderie between the artists. In private conversation many expressed how much they loved working so close to the water in such a beautiful spot. Some felt being there helped them slow down a bit. Having a space to make work in and to use creatively felt like a real luxury in a city that no longer made room for non-commercial production.

I can’t remember when I first noticed the term “ecosystem” or “ecology” applied to the art world. Language is funny like that. One minute everyone is talking about THE art world, with its implied hierarchies, centrifugal impulses and the accompanying oppositions of inside and outside, and then like the twelfth monkey crossing over to the island, ecological-speak entered our thinking and understanding of art and art institutions, almost by stealth – haven’t we always understood that art and artists exist in a complex web of networks, connections, friendships and communities? Duh! Well, actually no.

This shift in language is highly significant. One of the things it does is to bring into view how artist-run spaces like The Front, D11 and The Food Court are spaces that share values such as diversity and process, relationships and even fragility. Words like “ecology” help us understand and value these spaces in themselves, authentic in their own right as part of a larger ecosystem of art that includes museums and state galleries as well as commercial galleries. It shifts any oppositional or binary thinking, where once “alternative” spaces were considered “outside” they are now considered as part of the ecosystem. Artist-run initiatives have much to gain from ecological thinking, which teaches us that relations between individual entities, large and small, can be complex, uncertain and generative with diversity being valued above all.

Along with “ecologies” and art as an “ecosystem”, “institutions by artists” is another shift in language; the eponymous Canadian Convention of 2012 caught this zeitgeist. “Institution” may seem contradictory twinned with “ecologies”, but only if one imagines “institution” to be a rigid hierarchical structure populated by bureaucratic and /or marketing types. However, as the artist Kristina Lee Podesva suggests, in her opening remarks at the convention, there is another way of looking at the institution through the work of the Portuguese anthropologist João de Pina-Cabral.

“Departing from de Pina-Cabral’s idea that institutions are not static organisations but representative of relational processes of sociality”, Podesva described the practice of ‘institutions by artists’ as “a discursive formation that wrests the institution of art from the gallery and museum, and relocates it in the field of relations among artists living and working in the world.” 1

Yet at the same time that this “ecological” and “relational” thinking has entered the public discourse, our government is trapped in a neo-liberal fantasy/nightmare that seeks to privatise everything. An ARI ecology is a fragile thing and there are inherent tensions that need to be approached with some care. Fragility is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be complex and double-edged. On the one hand it’s part of the vitality, liveliness and energy of ARIs, on the other it can break and crash if not handled with care. The question is: how can we maintain the fragile energy of ARI culture without succumbing to easy solutions that will inevitably result in a monoculture?

ACAB in collaboration with Nickk Hertzog, CONCRETE TERRA, 23 July - 16 August, 2014. Photo credit Deb Bain-King

ACAB in collaboration with Nickk Hertzog, CONCRETE TERRA, 23 July – 16 August, 2014. Photo credit Deb Bain-King. The Front.


  1. Park, Liz, “Pluralising the Institution: On the Conference ‘Institutions by Artists’” in Afterall Journal, 20/12/2012. online. http://www.afterall.org/online/pluralising-the-institution-on-the-conference-institutions-by-artists – .VuknemBQ9UR


This is the first in a series of blog posts on the state of artist-run initiatives by writers around Australia, for Runway issue #30, Ecologies. 


The 2016 Sydney ARI Show

2016SYDNEYARISHOW-2The 2016 SYDNEY ARI SHOW will show the work of some of the artists who currently run ARIs in the greater Sydney area. These artists include Brad Allen-Waters, Louise Kate Anderson, Diego Bonetto, Linden Braye, Jenny Brown, Kieran Butler, Penelope Cain, Julian Day, John Demos, Lynne Eastaway, Wayne Hutchins, Lucas Ihlein, Therese Kenyon, Mahalya Middlemist, Sue Pedley, Sherryl Ryan, Tamsin Salehian, Alex Thorby, Gary Warner, Fleur Wiber, Ingrid van der Aa and Miriam Williamson.

Also on Sunday 3 April, 2-5pm
ARI Discussion: Collaborations and Concerns

All directors and representatives of Sydney ARIs are welcome to participate. Guest speaker Maria Miranda, DECRA Research fellow at Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne.

The purpose of this project is to foster closer ties between the many and varied artist-run-initiatives (ARIs) that play such an important role in the Sydney and wider art world. ARIs play this role by supporting artists’ communities, as well as the experimental and new work for which artists’ communities provide such an appreciative and well-informed audience.  This project hopes that by strengthening these ties we can together become a stronger and louder voice, and build appeal among art-interested audiences everywhere. We hope that this will become an annual event and extend more widely across ARIs, and involve ARIs outside of Sydney as well.

Participating ARIs include: Ultimo Project, TAP, SNO, SafARI, NORTH, MOP, MAP, CULTURE AT WORK, BIG FAG PRESS, Articulate project space.

Other ARIs will also be participating in the discussion on Sunday 3 April.
Artist Run Initiative links: The ARI Experience and ARTIST RUN.